In honor of my birthday today, I wanted to share a story from earlier in the year about growth, inspiration, and hanging in there. In the middle of my recent job hunting journey, I interviewed for a position I thought I was perfect for. It had the most ideal blend of my communication skills and the meaningful work I had been looking for. It was a position at a community college (a location I have longed to work at), that provided a flexible schedule working with students and local nonprofit groups. I honestly felt the job description was written for me, and I would be the perfect hire.
The interview went well, so I waited for the phone call, just knowing I was getting the job. While I waited, I continued my job seeking goals. One night I attended an event at the University of Oregon, Portland campus. The speakers were great, the free beer is always fun, and I was so convinced I had this community college job in the bag, I was on cloud 9 with very little worries.
As I left the event and waited for public transit to take me home, I checked my email. That’s when I got the terrible news…I didn’t get the job. I was devastated. At this point, I had been looking for work nearly four months, and I was SO excited about this job, I just thought it was meant to be.
I boarded the MAX with tears in my eyes, feeling so defeated. This was an entry level part-time position. All I could think of was, “If I can’t get this job, what job can I get?” I sat there letting the news mull in my mind. Maybe I should have answered a question differently during the interview, maybe I was too confident, maybe I didn’t have a particular skill-set, or enough experience. Then suddenly, a vision flashed across my mind.
I saw myself entering a stage in front of hundreds of people. Although I’ve clearly aged, I have a spring in my step, I’m smiling, waving, and the people are there to hear my story. Then I realized, my story will start out with trials, struggles and rejections, but my story will end with, “I just kept trying, and look where I am today!” I had a beautiful “aha” moment.
This vision made me smile as I realized that all the “no’s” I receive today make my story that much more interesting and inspiring for those to follow. I’m paving the way, I’m making myself stronger, and one day, I will make it!
Looking at my rejection in this positive light gave me hope again. I thought about a story I read recently in a parenting book, about the necessity of letting our children struggle because it’s the key to making them strong and independent. This story really resonates with me as a job seeker, and as someone figuring out my path still facing rejection from time-to-time.
“A teacher sends his students into the woods to watch a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. The student watches and waits, and the butterfly struggles to free itself from the cocoon. The student begins to worry about the poor butterfly. He watches some more and waits, and finally, his heart is filled with compassion for the poor butterfly’s struggle. Very gently, he reaches over and helps the butterfly out of its cocoon. The butterfly flies for a few feet and then falls to the ground and dies. The student begins to cry and runs back to his teacher. “Why,” he demands, “why did the butterfly die?” The teacher replies, “When you reached in and helped the butterfly out of its cocoon, you deprived it of the opportunity to strengthen its wings in the struggle.” -“How to Hug a Porcupine” by Julie A. Ross, M.A.